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I believe all Americans should be heartened by the results of the annual meeting held by Wall Street’s self-regulator, FINRA, this past Thursday. I remain convinced that FINRA as an organization remains an unknown entity to the overwhelming majority of the American populace. The results from this annual meeting may start to change that unfortunate reality. How so? Let’s navigate.

The Securities Industry Professional Association (The SIPA), long a thorn in FINRA’s side, actually trumped the FINRA release in highlighting the results of elections to the FINRA board of governors. Good for John Busacca and his colleagues at the SIPA in sending a strong message to FINRA that there are ‘new sheriffs in town.’ On Friday the SIPA released,

SIPA Candidates Sweep FINRA Board Elections!

For the first time in FINRA/NASD history an entire slate of petition candidates have been elected to serve on the FINRA board of Governors. Jed Bandes, Joel Blumenschein and Ken Norensberg won in a contested election against hand picked FINRA candidates. The SIPA wants to thank its members who put their time, effort, and reputations on the line in endorsing the slate. We look forward to working with both the regulators and the other candidates in transforming regulation as we know it.

The official results have not been released as of yet by FINRA but its apparent the voice of the small B/D (broker-dealers) was heard loud and clear.

Once again the members of the SIPA are proud to have supported and voted for Bandes, Blumenschein, and Norensberg and ask that they commit to upholding the change they vowed to bring.

Creating real change within longstanding, powerful organizations is never easy. While external pressures applied consistently can create a basis for change, the change truly needs to come from within the organization. Given the travesty that has occurred on Wall Street and throughout America over the last few years, there is no doubt that FINRA needed real change in terms of new governors. For the new board of governors to generate a sense of true investor confidence and real investor protection, they now need to follow through and fully investigate, expose, and rectify past failings incorporated in the proxy proposals put forth by Amerivet Securities.

I am beyond excited that FINRA’s member firms had the courage and fortitude to pass these proposals. I have been informed the votes in favor of these proposals were overwhelming. Make no mistake, FINRA had no interest in seeing these proposals passed. That fact alone shows how out of touch and misaligned FINRA is with its own members and the nation.

I commend Lieutenant Colonel Elton Johnson of Amerivet and his attorneys (Jonathan Cuneo, William Anderson, and Richard Greenfield) for their persistence in doggedly pursuing what has really transpired within FINRA. America deserves to learn the real inner workings of Wall Street’s self-regulator.

For those unaware, the proposals were highlighted in my commentary from August 3rd,What Is FINRA Hiding?,

In light of the challenges investors and all American citizens have experienced over the last few years, who in our nation would not fully support the following proposals which were presented to FINRA members in the following format for its upcoming annual meeting:

Proposal 2: FINRA should be required to disclose in each annual report the compensation for the top ten most highly paid FINRA employees and the amount of any funds paid to compensation consultants;

Proposal 3: There should be an independent study of ties between current/former FINRA directors/officers with Bernard L. Madoff, his family members and any of their affiliates;

Proposal 4
: There should be disclosure of FINRA investment transactions, policies and practices;

Proposal 5
: The Board of Governors meetings should be public, unless absolutely necessary to protect the confidentiality of individual regulatory issues;

Proposal 6
: FINRA members should have a non-binding “say-on-pay” for the five most highly compensated FINRA employees;

Proposal 7
: FINRA should employ an independent private sector inspector general to oversee its performance; and

Proposal 8
: FINRA should disclose (without redaction) all its correspondence with the IRS concerning the $35,000 payment to members in connection with the consolidation of NASD and NYSE Regulation.

Thanks to a friend of Sense on Cents for sharing the results of the voting on these Amerivet sponsored proposals. I strongly encourage anybody who cares about our markets, our economy, and our country to carefully review these figures. The results are nothing short of a first round, pulverizing, TKO. Of particular interest is the disparity in voting between large firms which have been widely viewed as benefiting from FINRA’s protection vs the small and medium firms which have felt FINRA’s sting.

Look specifically at the voting on Proposal 8 in which the FINRA payment of $35, 000 to its members firms is contested based on misrepresentation by Mary Schapiro et al in the FINRA proxy statement used for the merger to create FINRA itself. The large firms on Wall Street were the beneficiary of FINRA’s underpayment (to the tune of $175-350 million) to smaller firms because the large firms’ annual dues to FINRA went down.

These developments within FINRA can not be viewed as an end to the fight for real transparency. They are merely “the end of the beginning.”

I have spent more time reading FINRA Annual Reports, legal briefs, and a wide array of assorted other related documents than I ever could have possibly imagined. I often thought that much of my writing of the need for real change and real transparency within this organization would fall upon deaf ears or attract little interest. I was heartened last February when the Project on Government Oversight echoed my feelings and belief of the need for real transparency within FINRA and wrote, POGO Letter to Congress Calling for Increased Oversight of Financial Self-Regulators. February 23rd, the date that letter was released by POGO, was a great day.

Waking up on Saturday morning to the news that FINRA is getting new ’sheriffs’ and has passed the Amerivet proposals is spectacular. The pursuit of real transparency within FINRA is far from over but Saturday marked a significant move in the right direction.

I wonder how former FINRA and current SEC head Mary Schapiro, her former FINRA colleagues, the crowd on Wall Street, and their cronies in Washington are feeling knowing that with these results from FINRA’s annual meeting, America (that is the smaller broker-dealers representative of the country at large vs the large Wall Street banks) is calling for real transparency within our financial regulatory system?

Democracy at work. So sweet.

Wow. With the rush of adrenaline streaming through my veins, I think I’ll go get myself a workout.

Saturday “morning in America”. Keep punchin'.

I love it!

Disclosure: In the spirit of full disclosure, I have no affiliation or interest in any entity related to FINRA or any of the organizations involved in the pursuits highlighted here. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets, including our regulators, so that real investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

Source: FINRA Gets New 'Sheriffs'; Amerivet Proxy Proposals Approved